Okay, so I’ve been playing “Starfield” since early September, when it officially launched on Xbox Game Pass. In that time, I have made multiple characters, as well as dozens upon dozens of different ships, because I find the ship building minigame to be among the most satisfying aspects of the game. Of course, if you listen to the Steam reviews, there is nothing redeeming about “Starfield”, but I find those reviews to be a bit… biased against the game as a whole, and not worth the toilet paper they were clearly written on.
But that’s neither here nor there.
The point here is, one of the things I keep hearing about “Starfield” is that doing the ‘New Game Plus’ (NG+) over and over again isn’t really worth it, because you lose all of the stuff you had in the previous universe, and while you do get some shiny new Starborn armor and a ship, that ship is simultaneously both far too weak and far too powerful, compared to other ships you can build.
I know, it didn’t make any sense to me, either! So I decided to look into the issue personally, dedicating a whole NG+ run to this study.
First things first, let’s talk briefly about this ship in question, the Starborn Guardian. You get one at the start of each NG+ run, and they get progressively better through the first six runs (Starborn Guardian I through Starborn Guardian VI). In all later NG+ runs, you get the SG VI, although I do believe the armor gets better through NG+ 10, but I could be wrong about that point.
The SG is, at its core, a class A ship. It’s quick, nimble, and is not a very good choice as a freighter, if you get my point. When you compare it to the other free ship you start the game with, the Frontier, the SG has better guns, is much faster and handles better, and frankly just looks cooler. So I can see why some might say that the SG line of ships are overpowered, but I wasn’t going to look at it that way. As far as I was concerned, I needed to know not how it compares to the Frontier, but how it compares to what we as players can build ourselves.
So I started doing just that.
What I first devised was to build a hybrid class C ship, with some class A parts (basically, just the engines). It would be a small, quick, and extremely powerful ship… just like the Starborn Guardian! But I quickly ran into a few problems.
First, ship building in “Starfield” is scaled over the levels and skills, with more powerful parts requiring you to be at higher levels, and have advanced to tier 4 in Starship Design skill. So it became immediately clear that you have to be at least level 60 and have put a lot of points into your Tech skills, in order to build something that really outclasses a Starborn Guardian. But it doesn’t end there!
Anyone who is into ship building in “Starfield” can tell you that it is a fun and rewarding side-game… and it is also very, very expensive. I spent so much time grinding for credits, buying primo part after primo part, until I had finished my god-forsaken work… and what did I have, in the end? Well, it looked a lot like the Frontier, only with a lot more… stuff on it.
But it was fast, and deadly, and not even worth all the time and money I spent. Because keep in mind that this was being done by someone around level 130 with all of the necessary ship building skills already earned. While you could do the same in your first NG+ run, if you too dedicated yourself to ship building in your first universe, all that money and time spent just wasn’t worth it! Better to just focus on building something you’ll enjoy. If you want a powerful ship, put a class C reactor on the Frontier, and replace the weapons with class C particle beam weapons. That will rival the SG line.
Now then, what of the other claim, that the Starborn Guardians are too weak? While it is true that the SG line has some limitations, such as your ship combat skills not applying to its rather unique weapon types, and the fact that you cannot upgrade anything on the ship, and that it doesn’t even come with a damn bed… yeah, none of that is great. But as I said, if you want to upgrade something, do it to the Frontier, or one of the other ships you can earn for free in the game.
The question is, though, do those limitations mean the SG line is too weak? I would argue the answer to that is “No”, and I’ll tell you why. Simply put, starter ships like the Starborn Guardian (and don’t be fooled, this is only meant to be a starter ship on a NG+ run) are only meant to be used until you earn, build, or steal something better. But some feel that the SG ships should be the be all, end all of ships, because you lost all of your outposts, ships, gear, and money from the previous universe in order to get it.
NOTE: Those people are wrong, but I digress.
Anyway, I decided to jump into a new NG+ this last weekend, and test out just how useful the Starborn Guardian is. Not how powerful it is, because it only gets a bit better stats in each iteration, but how useful it might be in standard play. Specifically, I used this SG exclusively through the entirety of that universe. No, that’s not entirely true. I did take the opportunity to steal a class A Crimson Fleet ship, then immediately sell it off, before heading back out in the SG.
Sometimes I can’t resist stealing a pirate ship!
Now then, I took this SG through its paces, fighting in huge battles, often against bigger, more powerful ships… and never lost once. Yes, you read that right: I never lost a single space battle. Yes, I got pretty shot up in some cases, but I never failed to come out on top, in the end. The Starborn Guardian did its job, did it well, and left that universe the exact same way it came in, under my command.
So is the Starborn Guardian too weak? No. It is clearly more powerful than similar class A free ships, but can be outclassed by some simple, though expensive, upgrades to those starter ships.
So is the Starborn Guardian too powerful? Not with the limitations it carries, such as the inability to upgrade its systems, modify its build in any way, or apply your ship combat skills to its weapons. While it can be used throughout an entire NG+ run, that isn’t the same as being good at it. I could have spent the hundreds of thousands of credits I made in that run on building a really badass ship, that would have made the SG look like a toy!
In the end, the Starborn Guardian is just a ship. A really cool looking one, to be sure, but nothing special otherwise. Until Bethesda adds in the ability for us to upgrade and/or customise our Starborn Guardian ships, I will only use mine each NG+ until I can steal something to upgrade. Yeah, I could abuse the poor Frontier, but that feels like kicking a puppy.